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Labels of Prog

"HI-NOTE"

Now I am going to talk about the UK's "Hi-Note" company for our Labels of Prog and our (the only in the world) ProgBringer in Russian (with about 3.000 subscribers to it from Russia, the other former USSR republics, and also from the USA, Canada, Germany and Israel) as well. I saw the united catalogue of Hi-Note's four divisions and then checked the Progressive Rock Bible (the Gibraltar EPR, of course) to get an idea of what the label's bands are about, especially its older stuff. While I've found and read reviews and opinions on no less than a dozen bands and their excellent, according to the GEPR, works, almost all of these materials contain the notes about impossibility to get their heroes' albums because they were either underrated or just unnoticed from the direction of labels in order to re-release them on CD and, thus, make lots of prog-heads happy. So this is the fact that most of these obscured masterpieces originally were released independently with just 50 to 150 LP copies. Fortunately, the good people at the British "Hi-Note" label decided to make up such a serious deficiency in the Prog Rock genre and their back ("Background" division's) catalogue contains these unique things on CD. Now prog-lovers from all over the world have a wonderful chance to get those things that lots of profound prog-heads, including the early contributors to the GEPR, have been just dreaming about for many, many years. Thus, "Hi-Note" is the only British label having not only the stuff of contemporary performers (like "Cyclops", for example), but also working actively (and so purposefully!) backwards to get more than just the rarest masterpieces from the genre's remote past. With a large and really unique back catalogue and such outstanding contemporary performers as Clear Blue Sky (who recently celebrated the band's 30th anniversary, by the way) Tantalus and Colin Masson among others I find "Hi-Note" more deserving to be named the UK's premier Progressive Rock label than any other. Full of fresh ideas, the few old and new releases I've received lately from the label, give me not only a feel, but also a premonition of the second coming of truly British Progressive Rock. Its origin, as well as the fact that the first, 'British part' of the international progressive music movement in the end of the 1960s and in the first half of the 1970s was the most revolutionary, innovative and influential in anything related to the Genre and its future, is beyond any doubts. In the beginning of the 1980s Britain, at least officially, became a motherland for another progressive genre whose full 'epithet' is most often used shortly as Neo. Despite the fact that the 'birth' of Neo in Britain is, as I've said, confirmed officially, I have serious arguments against it. Actually I am sure that, concerning this country, Neo is just like a foundling 'child' (first of all thanks to Marillion and its wonderful procession). To me, it's more than just enough to be familiar at least with the creation of Canadian Saga to be sure in my guess. It's another story, though, but Britain, IMHO, has been and still remains the Queen of Neo over almost twenty years, as no other country has such a huge quantity of superb bands of this genre. That said, it seems Hi-Note has no Neo releases. But with all these excellent yet just Neo bands (possibly with a few exceptions) Britain has been among the lands-outcasts of the world Progressive Rock movement for the two last decades of the 20th century. As I've already depicted shortly the main strategy of one of the four Hi-Note's divisions, I think it's essential to add that there's a lot of extremely rare and at the same time unique bands in the "Background" catalogue. Check out just some of them that I've read about: Astral Navigators, Gygafo, Ithaca, Andromeda, Hurdy Gurdy, Raw Material andů Jade Warrior with their first four albums! While actually it's obvious that "Background" works on to reissue albums of the names from the remote 'progressive' past, I know for sure that Jade Warrior is still in active shape and their new studio album is almost completed already, being now in the mixing process. Though, maybe, the people at Hi-Note already know the fact that Jade Warrior's first new album since "Distant Echo" of 1993 will be, at the same time, their last, according to the permanent leader John Field. (That's really rueful.) If you like to see the complete "Background" catalogue, apart from the other "Background" things, please go to:

http://www.hi-note/background

Now it's time to talk about the three other divisions of Hi-Note, all of which, as well as "Background", have obviously special, diverging from the other divisions, purposes. So, "Aftermath" is a kind of headquarters of the old bands that are in work up to now. For example, Clear Blue Sky was formed way back in 1968, but the band's real debut album, recorded partly the same year and partly in 1969, (still!) sounds as wonderful as the bands latest "Mirror of the Stars". You can read reviews on both these albums already now.

>http://www.progressor.net/reviews/clear_blue_sky_2001.html
>http://www.progressor.net/reviews/clear_blue_sky_1969.html

To know more about "Aftermath", its activity, etc, as well as about all performers feature this Hi-Note's division go to: http://www.hi-note/aftermath. "Headline" is another special division of "Hi-Note" which specializes on search for new units of the genre so that the best of them could have a possibility to release their works properly and then to have a good distribution to reach an audience of Prog-listeners from all around the world through Hi-Note. My reviews on albums by the two "Headline" based performers are here:

>http://www.progressor.net/reviews/colin_masson_1999.html
>http://www.progressor.net/reviews/tantalus_2000.html

Unfortunately, so far I haven't heard anything from "English Garden" and all I know is that this Hi-Note's division has the second largest catalogue after "Background". Only knowing that Colin Masson is the former member of The Morrigan, the band that released on "English Garden" more albums than any other artist presented here, I can figure (more or less logically, though) that this division works with contemporary performers that have been working for at least several years and have a certain authority as artists "English Garden" is located on the Web at: http://www.hi-note.com/english. I'll be back to add some details in this material as soon (if) I know them.

VM (Vitaly Menshikov): October 2000